Leadership, Resilience, and Higher Education’s Promise

Curated Story
Changemaker Institutions
This article originally appeared on Stanford Social Innovation Review

To kick off our in-depth series “Innovating Higher Education for the Greater Good,” we’d like to highlight some of the key insights we’ve learned from our global community of higher education changemakers. 

Throughout this series, we’ll share inspiring stories of change and innovation that bring new value to students, the institution, and society. Some models emerge from within colleges or universities themselves, while others are catalyzed outside of academia. For those in higher education, this series invites you to imagine something new on your campus and be a part of systems change and innovation.

For those in other sectors, this series will be an invitation to learn how higher education is preparing itself and its stakeholders to be changemakers for the greater good. It is also a call to consider how your work—whether in the private sector, public sector, or civil society—can leverage the huge assets that higher education has to offer—whether for your organization, future workforce, or community.

We will address the ways that colleges and universities are:

  • Responding creatively to disruptions—e.g., increased competition, growing economic and educational inequality, or the climate crisis—to achieve new relevancy
  • Addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion through student engagement, teaching, research, and policy work
  • Rewiring themselves—whether via strategy, education, or research—for greater impact

It will also feature examples of:

  • New organizational forms starting from scratch, whether a start-up college with innovative educational and operating models, or external partners bringing
  • entrepreneurial pedagogies and pathways to existing institutions of higher education
  • Intermediary organizations contributing to innovation and transformation across higher education whether on a national or global scale

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Ashoka insight

As outlined in the publication, Changemaker Institutions, we believe that social innovation in higher education is as much a process as an outcome, both an educational and an organizational change approach. For colleges and universities to co-create world-changing knowledge and impact with their community, they have to be able to respond quickly to community needs, work across disciplinary silos, and value and empower everyone as changemakers: students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members. We’ve found four key principles that foster changemaking graduates and community outcomes:

  1. Aligning Vision and Strategy
  2. Multi-Directional Change Leadership
  3. Empowering Values
  4. Systems Leadership